This story I have for you today is one of those great experiences that can only happen while living abroad. I was needing to exchange some ever falling US dollars for some Polish Zloty to pay my rent. So I went to the same Kantor Man, named Zbyszek, I have used for several years. (Kantor is the polish name for cash exchange) I walk up to the window and present my green backs and once again as he has done in all previous visits he points out his calendar of naked women on the back wall. Before I go any further in the story let me give you a visual.
This Kantor is about the size of a small walk in closet. In the corner to the left of the glass is a small table, which usually has another man sitting at talking and drinking what looks to be coffee but not today. But this time the table is empty and only has a bottle of cheap knock off Coke product appropriately named "KOLA" with a K. There is a radio, a hot water kettle, some more nude pictures and 2 chairs. Not much in this place.
Now on with the story. He only speaks about 5 words in English, which I later find out are the same in Polish and English, Business (biz-nees in polish), moment (mo-meent), OK, No Problem ( No pro-bleem). The following conversation I have with him is all in Polish. NOW my polish is not that good when it comes to speaking but i can understand quite a bit. So I will tell the story from the English standpoint, cause I can usually spell most English words. (Remember he only speaks 5 words in English) He asks me if I want a drink. Ho holds up his coffee cup and I say sure. So I am waiting for him to pass me a drink through the hole in the glass. NOPE!! He gets up. Unlocks the door and begins to leave while saying MO-MEENT about 10 times. I am thinking to myself "where the f**k is he going" and realize my money is on the other side of the glass. I think he is coming back with a hot cup of coffee for me. I couldn't be more wrong.
He strolls back with a bottle of cheap polish vodka. OH F@#K! This is going to be fun. He unlocks the door, smiles and waves me in. He says to me in Polish, "please sit". I do then he follows up with saying Mo-meent, Pierwszy biz-nees which means Business First. He types in the currency into what looks like a computer from 1992. Green screen, small letters and a printer that uses paper with the holes on the edges. Yeah it's old. He then opens the safe. NOW this is getting crazy.
He trusts me enough to open the safe containing stacks of hundred and two hundred zloty bills as well as stacks of USD and EUROS. I am thinking there is about 300,000 in zloty, 50,000 in USD and 30,000 in Euros!!!! Holy Shit!! I can't believe it. To top it off he is HOUSED!!!! Later I will find out he drinks one liter of vodka a day while at work. I could easily clanked him on the head and walked out of that place with loads of money. But this was a test of my true character. I thought to myself this would be easy cause he is drunk, nobody is around, no cameras and I can lock him up inside. But of course I don't do it.
He gives my my money and now it's time to drink. He pours me a cup of vodka.
I am thinking maybe a shot or a double. NOPE wrong again. He says you must drink a half the bottle and then pours himself one but not before spilling some on his pants. He tops it off with some KOLA and we toast each other. Our conversation after the first drink begins with him saying he is not happy with the war, I think. He makes sounds like bombs going off and he points his fingers at me and makes machine gun sounds with his lips. Then says IRAQ.
So i am assuming this is what he is talking about. Which then leads into him talking about his life in the Polish Army. He told me his commanding officer like to drink only Russian vodka while he was in the service. So when ever he visited the office of his commander he had to either bring him Russian Vodka or drink some with him.
Doesn't it sound strange to you that a Polish military officer in the 1960's only drinks Russian vodka? I thought so and so did Zbyszek. But he said he had to do it or he would be punished.
30 minutes has gone by now and we have finished this small 300ml of vodka. Yeah, we smoked it down. He continues to talk to me even though i don't know half the shit he is saying nor does he know what I am talking about. All we keep doing istoasting and drinking. All the while i am looking at the open safe door thinking about running for the hills with some fat cash. He tells me his son learned English by reading A book english book and listening to music. He also asks me about 10 times if I can speak German, Czech or Russian. I replied every time with no. But he continued to try to convince me that I could. But he failed horribly. He asked me if I am married and I said No. Then he said"Nigdy w życiu nie wychodź za Polkę bo są zwariowane." while pointing his finger to his head and making swirls as if he were crazy. Which means, Don't ever marry a polish woman because they are crazy.
I laughed and said, I know I have dated some pretty crazy ones. We laughed and laughed then I finally had enough. I had to get out of this place. An hour had almost passed and I was feeling the effects of the vodka on my body. I knew if I stayed longer it would have turned into a mess and I would have to crawl home. The end of a completely true story. Only this could happen in Poland.